Latest News

May 20, 2013

A.R. Buda, P.J.A. Kleinman, G.W. Feyereisen, D.A. Miller, P.G. Knight, P.J. Drohan and R.B. Bryant.... Abstract: Identifying sites prone to surface runoff has been a cornerstone of conservation and nutrient management programs, relying upon site assessment tools that support strategic, as opposed to operational, decision making. We sought to develop simple, empirical models to represent two highly different mechanisms of surface runoff generation—saturation excess runoff and infiltration excess runoff—using variables available from short-term weather forecasts. Logistic regression models were developed from runoff monitoring studies in Pennsylvania, fitting saturation excess runoff potential to rainfall depth, rainfall intensity, and soil moisture, and infiltration excess runoff potential to rainfall depth and intensity. Testing of the models in daily hindcasting mode over periods of time and at sites separate from where they were developed confirmed a high degree of skill, with Brier Skill Scores ranging from 0.61 to 0.65 and Gilbert Skill Scores ranging from 0.39 to 0.59. These skill scores are as good as models used in weather forecasting. Results point to the capability to forecast site-specific surface runoff potential for diverse soil conditions, with advances in weather forecasting likely to further improve the predictive ability of runoff models of this type.

May 16, 2013

Contemplating humanity's impact at the global scale of the geosciences can blow your mind, but maybe for the best. See this month's feature article of Soil Horizons, "Pedology Key to Understanding Our Changing Earth in the ‘Age of Humans’".

April 11, 2013

Brubaker, K.M., Meyers, W.L., Drohan, P.J., Miller, D.A., and E.W. Boyer. 2013. The use of LIDAR terrain data in characterizing surface roughness and microtopography. Applied and Environmental Soil Science.

March 19, 2013

Dr. Drohan will be discussing his research with Drs. Brittingham and Mortensen on shale gas landscape disturbance in the north central Appalachians.

March 19, 2013

This talk focused on what we know to date about changing ecosystems and how monitoring is helping us answer questions about shale-gas disturbance in Pennsylvania.

March 19, 2013

The event brought together industry, academia, and energy think thanks from across Ohio and the Appalachian region.

February 1, 2013

Lauren Vitko and Mike Marsicano placed 3rd in the poster and scientific talk sections at 2012 SSSA Annual Meeting Grad Student Competition (pedology division).

December 5, 2012

Energy production presents numerous challenges to both industry and land managers across the globe. The recent development of unconventional (shale gas) plays around the world [US Energy Information Administration (USEIA), 2011] has brought attention to the potential for rapid change in affected landscapes and associated ecosystem services. While shale-gas development specifically has been the focus of recent research on how landscapes are changing, continued scientific investigation can lessen the resulting ecosystem disturbance across all energy infrastructure. In April 2012, the Pennsylvania State University hosted the 2012 Goddard Forum Oil and Gas Development Impacts on Forested Ecosystems--Research and Management Challenges.

November 2, 2012

A team of students from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently won the Northeast Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in Wilmington, Ohio, qualifying to compete in the national championship in the spring.

October 25, 2012

Presentation on the Impacts on Ecosystem Resources with Dave Yoxtheimer of MCOR.

September 30, 2012

As drilling for natural gas in deep shale rock continues to expand in Pennsylvania, researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have now identified some of the possible effects. In a study in the Sept.-Oct. issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal, they report that 50 to 70 percent of shale-gas drill sites across Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Plateau are situated on slopes that could be prone to erosion and sedimentation problems.

September 24, 2012

Across the Appalachian Plateau in Pennsylvania, 50 to 70 percent of shale-gas pads are being developed on slopes that could be prone to erosion and sedimentation problems, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

September 6, 2012

The natural gas boom has disturbed nearly 1 percent of the land in Washington County, according to a federal study, one of several designed to chart the revived industry’s impact on Pennsylvania land. (article in Pittsburgh Tribune)

July 30, 2012

Worldwide, shale-gas development is becoming a feasible extraction practice and the northern Allegheny Plateau, USA is a region experiencing such development. We used a GIS to investigate topographic and soil characteristics across existing and permitted shale-gas pads in Pennsylvania, which could affect infrastructure development and reclamation success. Results from this analysis, while regionally specific, can contribute knowledge for successful management of all shale-gas extraction. Approximately 60% of existing and permitted pads occur on slopes at risk to some excess surface water movement and local erosion.

July 24, 2012

Restoration Ecology - Acid mine drainage (AMD) barrens result from destruction of vegetation within AMD flow paths. When exposed to air, soluble iron in AMD undergoes oxidation and hydrolysis to form ferric iron (oxyhydr)oxides which accumulate on soil surfaces. A restoration experiment was conducted at a 50-year-old AMD barrens created by discharge from an abandoned underground coal mine. The objective was to determine whether vegetation could be established by altering rather than removing surface layers of acidic precipitates at a site representative of other mining-degraded areas.

July 18, 2012

Pennsylvania Association of Professional Soil Scientist's Workshop in Waterville, PA on July 18th included a presentation by Dr. Patrick Drohan on the "Soil/landscape impacts and management associated with Marcellus shale natural gas drilling" and a Marcellus Shale Drilling Field Tour.

July 16, 2012

ScienceDaily — Pennsylvania is hardly a stranger to energy development. Since 1859, more than 325,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the state, and many areas still bear the scars of strip-mining for coal. Now the latest energy boom in on. Thousands of feet below the surface are the Marcellus and Utica shale formations and their largely untapped reserves of natural gas.